Suspicious circumstances: Family seeks honest inquiry into boy’s death

Published: May 7, 2016
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Civil society protesting against the 'murder' of  Inder Vanit Hotwani on May 7, 2016 at the Hydrabad Press Club. PHOTO: EXPRESS

Civil society protesting against the 'murder' of Inder Vanit Hotwani on May 7, 2016 at the Hydrabad Press Club. PHOTO: EXPRESS

HYDERABAD: 

A police inquiry into the suspicious death of a schoolboy, who allegedly drowned in a swimming pool, lingers on as the family remains dissatisfied with the investigation.

Eleven-year-old Inder Vanit Hotwani died on April 13 at the Hyderabad Club. The club’s administration claimed Inder drowned in the pool but the family refuses to accept this as fact.

The subsequent medical reports into the cause of death and alleged evasion of the club to provide CCTV footage further strengthened their fears that the boy was raped and later strangled to death.

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“The club administration called us at 4:35pm that day to tell us that our son drowned and that they have shifted him to Ghani Hospital. When I reached there his [Inder’s] pulse was zero and his heart was not beating,” said the boy’s father, Dr Chetan Das Hotwani, a paediatrician and assistant professor at Liaquat University of Medical and Health Sciences, at a press conference a few days ago.

For the next nine days he kept his son on a ventilator at hospitals in Hyderabad and Karachi, trying to resuscitate him but Inder was dead even before being taken to the hospital.

“I had seen the bruises on his body, which are unusual in the case of drowning. Drowning didn’t seem to have taken his life,” Hotwani argued. After several days of protest by the family, the G.O.R police finally registered a murder case against the club’s administration.

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Initially, Hyderabad SSP Irfan Baloch formed an inquiry committee, headed by ASP Suhai Aziz, but the Sindh home minister later assigned the inquiry to the SSP himself. Two suspects, Sajjad Parehar and Nadir Parehar, both lifeguards at the club, were arrested.

However, to the family’s discontent, the police obtained only a one-day physical remand of the suspects and on Friday, they were sent to jail on judicial remand. “How can the police complete an investigation in such a serious case in just one day?” wondered Hotwani.

SSP Baloch said the CCTV footage provided by the club is blurred. “The club maintains CCTV record of seven days. During the first seven days after the death, the family approached the administration to give them the footage but they refused,” he explained. The police received the footage after the registration of the FIR on May 2.

On Saturday, the Hindu Panchayat Mirpurkhas district, from where Dr Hotwani hails, convened a meeting in the hall of Lal Mandir, which was attended by local politicians, doctors, lawyers, social workers and notable citizens.

MNA Kishan Chand Parwani, Pakistan Medical Association Mirpurkhas’ Dr Akram Sultan and Dr Dev Raj called for an inquiry conducted by independent criminology experts.  “The medical reports [obtained by the family] have proven that the cause of death was not drowning. He was killed before being thrown in the pool,” said the doctors, supporting Dr Hotwani’s stance.

The participants collectively requested the prime minister and chief minister to order a high-level probe and arrest the club’s administrator, Mushtaq Memon, for an effective investigation.  “I am fighting this battle to save the lives and honour of other members [of the Hyderabad Club] and their children,” said Dr Hotwani.

The club is a district administration-built gymkhana in Hyderabad where the Lahooti Festival and Hyderabad Literature Festival were held recently.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2016.

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